Obama Playing Hardball: ‘Executive Performance’ in Question

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Barack Obama chats with member of the audience with moderator Chris Matthews in this 2008 file photo.

President Barack Obama is getting ready to play “Hardball.”

That means that MSNBC’s Chris Matthews will be asking the president a lot of questions about Obamacare today as the two meet on a stage at American University, right?

“That’s an assumption I wouldn’t make,” Matthews said on the network’s “Morning Joe.”

Matthews, the irrepressible interviewer who seldom waits for a full answer before he plunges into the next question, says he has one big thing on his mind today: “Executive performance” and “command.”

“What’s his model of running the White House — I want to know what it is, and I’m going to be asking it tonight,” Matthews said.

This question, of course, is fueled by the debacle that was the rollout of the health-care exchanges under the president’s signature health-care law. The program lacked a CEO, Matthews said this morning. “There wasn’t one person with that responsiblity,” he told “MoJo” host Joe Scarborough. “It should have been there.”

The half-hour interview will be taped this afternoon before an audience at the Washington college campus and shown on “Hardball” at 7 pm and 10 pm EST tonight. Matthews, who says he will try to fit a lot of questions into that half-hour, also sees a certain challenge with a guest who already has started trying to move the conversation away from the health-care problem — delivering a speech yesterday about inequalities of income in America.

When a politician can’t talk about “efficiency and competency,” Matthews said, one generally turns to ideology. That, he said, is “the lens” which the president is attempting to focus on the White House now.

Ready to rumble? “Hardball is kicking… you know what,” Scarborough said in a bit of shameless network self-promotion. “It’s old school.”

“Let’s be honest about this,” Matthews said.  “The president will say what he wants to say.”

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